By Lizzy Freier
As we finally close out 2020, Canadian foodservice is still facing a variety of challenges heading into the new year. One of those is how to keep innovating and broadening menu horizons in a time when standing out from the crowd has significant importance.
In the latest edition of Trend Watch, Technomic and RestoBiz assess three continuing menu trends you can expect to see across Canada.
“New-Mami” flavour exploration
As consumers increasingly look to comfort fare, both as the pandemic rages on and with colder weather coming in, enter new umami (or “new-mami”) ingredients and applications. Trending up in independent restaurants are ingredients abundant in umami flavour profiles — savoury, mouthwatering and glutamate-rich — to provide a sense of comfort to consumers.
- The Butternut Tree in Edmonton serves a Chaga Flip, featuring The Newfoundland Distillery Co.’s chaga rum, demerara syrup, and egg.
- Ra Bar in Edmonton menus Pink Oyster Mushrooms that are togarashi-seasoned and served with miso honey aioli.
Spicy sauces and condiments heat up
Among some of the fastest-growing ingredients on Canadian menus in the third quarter are heat-infused condiments and sauces. Comparing Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 on Technomic’s Ignite menu platform, ingredients that saw growth include wasabi mayonnaise (+23.8%), chipotle aioli (+18.4%), spicy mayonnaise (+5.1%), and honey-chipotle sauce (+3.3%). Each of these ingredients balances heat from either chile peppers or other plants with something light (such as mayo or aioli) or sweet (such as honey).
And this is a direct result of something consumers are asking for. According to Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report, 71% of consumers overall (81% of those ages 18-34) would like more restaurants to offer sauces that feature a combination of flavours. Further, 47% of consumers prefer very spicy foods, while 32% prefer moderately spicy flavours. The ability to customize dishes with these spicy condiments and sauces and the explanation of spice are both key, though, since preferences vary.
- Burger King Canada released a new Sriracha King Sandwich, featuring two quarter-pound, flame-grilled beef patties, bacon, spicy jalapenos, cheese and Sriracha sauce on a sesame seed bun.
- Earls launched on its summer menu Chipotle Calamari, featuring chipotle aioli, jalapeno, pickled onion and asparagus.
Leading quick-service burger chains in Canada have turned to mushroom-topped burger melts as winter limited-time offers. These items — which combine the seasonal aspect of mushrooms with the cheesy indulgence expected during colder-weather months — provide a new layer to the comfort food trend that’s been common throughout the pandemic. These items are chock full of umami elements (such as bacon and barbecue sauce) and premium descriptors, such as “100% Canadian Angus beef” and “applewood-smoked bacon.”
- Harvey’s has been testing at select locations an Angus BBQ Mushroom Cheese Melt, featuring a 100% Canadian Angus beef patty topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions, cheddar cheese and Budweiser barbecue sauce on a lightly toasted bun.
- Wendy’s Canada recently brought back the Bacon Portabella Mushroom Melt, which has a quarter-pound of beef topped with applewood-smoked bacon and portobello mushrooms in a cheddar sauce, served on a toasted bun.
Trend Watch is a regular contribution to RestoBiz based on restaurant and menu trends noted by Technomic Inc.
Lizzy Freier is Senior Managing Editor for Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry, including menu trends.